If Not a Walled Garden, then Something With a Drawbridge?

So while some are not happy with the broad label of “walled garden”, I am growing increasingly annoyed at the complete lack of anything substantive, or half substantive, or a sketch on a dirty napkin of just what this Apple iTunes U is all about. As far as I know, it is very vaporous.

At first I was encouraged because 20 minutes after filling out an interest form, I was called by an Apple rep, and thought, “hey, inside track!” The biggest challenge in our sprawling, decentralized organization, has been trying to solicit some leadership to advocate a direction, to maybe…. provide… leadership? As stands, the typical Maricopa path is about 10 different, overlapping directions. This is a chance to act as a system, so we may end up with 1 unified representation (as Maricopa) or fragmented (10+ different representations).

So I have asked this rep, emailed, voicemailed, cc:ed our local Apple rep, to get some more substantial details (or even more vague ones, anything) on just what this thing is, how will it work, what do we need to do. Without this information, I can hardly make a case for something I can only describe in terms of PR cruft like:

iTunes U sets educational content free by delivering the best solution for the distribution of content that can be accessed by an iPod. And iTunes U complements other higher education online learning systems, leveraging existing investments in technology infrastructures. Making it all work together is seamless, thanks to Apple’s unmatched hardware and software integration and innovative management tools.

That will be very meaningful to our college tech reps and decision makers.

At the same time, in talking to colleagues at a recent out of state meeting, other large universities (like the one just down the street from my office) are in ‘direct negotiations’ with Apple in iTunesU. What are the negotiating? Hdjkklsf fdsafd fda fd fdsa fda fd. fds afdsa fdafd afad. Or something like that. Michael Feldstein and colleagues got the golden tour inside the garden.

We are getting nothing.

I have a meeting on Wednesday morning with our media leadership group, the lead audio / video people on all campuses. I am vainly hoping I can persuade them to come together and take some… leadership.

But I have nothing but bubkas to talk about and show. What is iTunes? How does it work? What does it do? how will people upload? Access? Who will be the gatekeepers? The only thing I can answer with is??

iTunes U delivers on the promise of mobile learning in higher education by extending teaching and learning beyond the classroom.

So I am not seeing Apple as a walled garden, but some distance remote glistening city where others get to frolic, and where we cannot even get a dial tone. Apple only tells you what Apple thinks you need to know. Their relationship to blogging is suing bloggers.

I would not be advocating iTunesU, or wanting to, if it were not for the fact that most of our faculty have no place to store and deliver rich media, and yet they are wanting to do so. If I have to look any more at the PR flaff , I may just lose my lunch.

Yeah, I am kind of cranky. This dog wouldn’t mind tossing an apple around the yard. I don’t know what it takes to get some attention from them, so the rear leg is rising into position…

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. You aren’t cranky – iTunes U looks like a pure PR play. I don’t much there there either and I am getting all sort of communcations about “doing something with this”.

    I think we (educational institutions) can do better on our own in this situation.

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